Bridgetown and Port of Spain have agreed to share diplomatic missions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The announcement was made on Monday by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and her Trinidadian counterpart Dr Keith Rowley ahead of the CARICOM mid-term summit which began here today.
The Trinidadian prime minister said both countries agreed after exploring ways of effectively cooperating “in every possible area”.
Dr Rowley announced: “Our discussions have taken us to a place of agreement where Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados have agreed to share some of our missions abroad.
“So what we have agreed to do finally is where we have a mission that part of the world, that Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados will enter into a memorandum of understanding where we would share a mission in a country.
“It means that each country will have a larger number of footprints, meaning that where Trinidad is present in Nigeria and Barbados is not, that we operationalized that mission as a Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados mission.
“And where Ghana has a Barbados mission it will be operationalized as Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.”
He continued: “The arrangement that we seek to put in place is that the high commissioner would be serving for two years.
“For example, we have a high commissioner in Nigeria now and the senior person would be a Barbados person, we share the cost of the mission and we share the staff.
“When Barbados operationalize in Ghana, there will be a Barbadian in place with a senior Trinidad and Tobago second in command and sharing the price.”
Prime Minister Mottley said they were hoping to open the shared missions in Ghana and Nigeria before the end of this year.
Mottley said: “In the case of Abu Dhabi and South Korea, we see that as the third wing for us because we recognize that we cannot continue to only have a North Atlantic focus if we are going to bring sustainable benefits to our people who are ahead of us in travelling [to these countries].”
The two leaders were addressing a signing ceremony, in which the two nations also signed the second phase of a shared economic zone agreement that would allow them to carry out seismic exploration at each other’s border and jointly operate a producing reservoir of oil and/or gas that is found there.
Mottley said given the fiscal difficulties “all around” it was necessary for countries to pursue efficiency and work together “in as many areas possible to the benefit of taxpayers”.
She said: “It makes sense because in any event on many of the foreign policy issues we are aligned with respect to our positions.
“It does not in any way diminish the role of capital but at the same time it allows us to be far more effective.”
A shared mission was nothing new, Mottley pointed out, as she recalled that Barbados initially had a joint mission with Guyana in London following the two countries’ independence in 1966.
The two CARICOM leaders said they anticipated that the shared mission model would greatly benefit both nations even as the Caribbean seeks to increase its diplomatic presence within the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) as it relates to pending new agreements.